I refuse to believe this is true.

If you haven’t yet heard, Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino isn’t exactly shattering income projections since its opening.  No, rather it has been performing far enough under projections that its credit rating was dinged a notch.

The Post-Gazette did their own analysis of the crowds at the Rivers Casino versus the crowds at the more profitable Meadows Casino at various times during the week.  In that article, they also interviewed the spokesman of the Rivers Casino, who when explaining why he believes the casino is struggling said this:

Mr. Matta said part of the Rivers’ woes may deal with traditional Pittsburgh quirks. People don’t like crossing rivers and are creatures of habit, which may explain why some feel more comfortable at The Meadows, he said.

Are you effin’ kidding me?

WE DON’T LIKE TO CROSS THE RIVERS?!  You mean we don’t like to cross bridges in this smoky, sooty city and instead we just want to go down to Hornes and maybe hit up Murphy’s before shopping at Kaufmann’s or taking in a movie at the Warner Centre, and we SURE AS HELL aren’t going to cross a damn bridge to get to the casino.

Read the article and see the reasons casino-goers gave for choosing the Meadows and you’ll hear things like the Meadows is more comfy, the Meadows feels winnier (my word), the Meadows has more dollar machines, and on and on and on.

Not one scaredy-fraidy old grandma said, “The RIVERS Casino?! Ok, first sonny boy, it has the word ‘river’ right there in the name and second of all, I ain’t crossing no daggum bridge.  That’s TERRIFYING! Now get out of my way and stop harshing my lucky.”

Also, Rivers Casino, if you believe the reason for your struggles has anything to do with Burghers being unwilling to cross a river, what, pray tell, do you plan to do about it?  Good luck digging up that monstrosity of a casino and its equally monstrous garage and putting them somewhere where the entire city can get to them without crossing a frickin’ river.

Because we won’t cross no rivers, just ask the Steelers fans.

So tell me Burghers, has a single one of your grannies or pappies said they won’t go to the Rivers Casino because they have to cross the river? Anyone?  Anyone? Zober?


  1. Mike
    October 5, 2009 6:54 am

    That’s also why we’re getting the T tunnel…since we’re afraid of crossing rivers. Going under is fine I suppose. At least, if the now-pulled PAT radio commericals are to be believed.

  2. hello haha narf
    October 5, 2009 6:55 am

    slots are boring. did anyone say that?

  3. Mikey
    October 5, 2009 7:13 am

    I will tell you what my mother told me about the casino, I do not gamble and have not been to ANY casino so I have no opinion here.

    She said she is worried about parking in the garage in the dark late at night and going into the casino on the North Side. She would rather go to the Meadows where it’s safer.

    Until they get the elderly to FEEL comfortable in their minds it’s safe going there they aren’t going to get the sales.

    People THINK the Meadows is safer. Perception is everything. The Rivers have done a TERRIBLE job of marketing that place – shame on them.

    You are not convincing a 20,30,40, 50 year old to gamble there you are convincing a 65, 75, 85 year old and that is a total different marketing strategy.

    Good luck Rivers.

  4. John in the Rocks
    October 5, 2009 7:17 am

    Having been to both casinos, I can just say this: the reason the Rivers is failing is because it’s not that good. Yeah, gambling is gambling, but the Rivers seems to think it’s a Vegas casino and is therefore charging Vegas like prices for the buffet, drinks and the rest. I think that the under 30 crowd is treating the Rivers like a night club – going there to drink and hang out but not to gamble. The Meadows, on the other hand, caters to the gamblers (read: old people) more. The Rivers had better find its identity before its credit rating drops anymore.

  5. kelly
    October 5, 2009 7:26 am

    payouts suck compared to other casinos.
    the other night we waited in line for 45 minutes to get something to eat. a few weeks ago we were there for two hours before someone served us a drink – then we were told that they weren’t taking credit cards yet. i don’t think bridges are the problem.

  6. USCMike
    October 5, 2009 7:28 am

    I concur with John in the Rocks about them thinking it’s a Vegas casino, but it’s also clear that the geniuses who thought putting a casino in a city that’s just not known for profligate spending unless you’re a politician or PAT executive, have failed miserably at the marketing game. I grew up in eastern PA when Atlantic City opened up and they had buses full of folks who took the ride to AC for free and got a $10 roll of quarters too. They need to get the buses rolling so the old(er) folks have their transportation and security needs met w/o them thinking they’re crossing a river!!

    As for me, I could care less about gambling, so no matter what they do, even if I fearlessly cross rivers everyday, I’m not going to waste my time and money at the casino. After all, I’ve got a teenager who already gambles with my money!! ;^)

  7. Jake
    October 5, 2009 7:28 am

    My grandparents refuse to go to The Rivers because it’s near downtown and they hate navigating the city… Meadows is in easy reach immediately off of an interstate – clearly old-folk friendly.

  8. kdiddy
    October 5, 2009 7:29 am

    We’re not really casino types in my family. Gambling is mostly limited to the lottery. BUT I bought a house in Brookline (South Hills) a few years ago because it was the best value I could find and my own grandparents won’t come out to visit because they won’t go through the Liberty tubes. My mom even acts like she’s crossed into some foreign country and asks me questions that usually contain some version of, “How do you people do (insert mundane task) out here?” I think the next time she visits I’m just going to erect a burning wickerman in the backyard and prepare a sacrifice. I’m sure she won’t blink. So if the nickel-slot crowd won’t go to the Rivers because bridges are holding them back, I wouldn’t really be surprised.

  9. Chris
    October 5, 2009 7:43 am

    The article should’ve also talked to Pittsburghers who are going to West Virginia because of the table games. But I think all of these posts have hit the nail on the head:

    * slots vs. table games
    * security
    * access
    * winnier-ness (love it)
    * free drinks (hello?!?!)

    Not to mention the horrible PR misstep in trying to charge Steelers fans $50.00 to park there, which half the population now thinks is the price to pay to park all the time.

  10. john
    October 5, 2009 7:43 am

    Another project the tax paying public took hook line and sinker!..we arent going to see much benefit from.

  11. S
    October 5, 2009 8:35 am

    I’ve been to both casinos and for the most part enjoyed both. However, the Rivers seems to have had a tad of superiority complex when it opened in part highlighted by the whole Steelers parking debacle. Almost like saying “we are so cool and in demand that all of our 3000+ parking spaces are going to be full with people who actually want to gamble instead of watch the game.” We all know now that wasn’t true. Seems like they made a bad first impression with many people and when you have a direct competitor, it will be hard to overcome that initial misstep.

  12. Matt
    October 5, 2009 8:59 am

    Like Kelly said, the payouts at Rivers are laughable. People aren’t going to spend money in the casino if they aren’t going to have big payouts. The thing that upsets me the most about the casino is that they aren’t helping to pay for the Consol Energy Center like they said they would.

  13. Donncha
    October 5, 2009 9:06 am

    1. To the majority of folks, it is out of sight, which, in Pittsburgh, amounts to out of mind.

    2. It was so late in opening that it could not reasonably capitalize on its hype and buildup; even the controversy over Barden could have been turned to an advantage if they’d opened promptly.

    3. I don’t gamble, but I’m fascinated by Vegas and its culture. I have no sense of anything that’s going on at Rivers Casino. Are there shows? Concerts? Bikini cole slaw wrestling? No idea.

    4. To make casinos work in Pittsburgh we’d need an open field — five or six licenses, require them to provide live entertainment 12 hours a day to guarantee spinoff employment; then let them compete for customers with each other, creating a destination that will draw out-of-towners.

    The whole project lacks any semblance of the critical mass needed to get it going. From what I hear, when you go to the The Meadows you can see a horse race, too. Go to the Rivers and you can see gambling machines.

  14. Burgh Baby
    October 5, 2009 9:13 am

    OK, show of hands. How many people can get to The Meadows without crossing a river or two or ten? I’ve heard Yinzers talk about Washington County like it’s the Deep South, so clearly The Meadows is doing something right in order to get people to drive there.

  15. unsatisfied
    October 5, 2009 9:18 am

    personally, I laugh at casinos. )I don’t even like vegas that much.) I don’t have to cross a river to get to the rivers casino and I still wouldn’t step foot in there. (that, and I’m not 90.)

    that being said, perhaps these things, among the other ones mentioned here, are working against the casino:

    – 7% county tax vs. 6% in washington county.

    – does the meadows charge to park?

    – no regular fireworks shows or bobbleheads giveaways. you’d think these guys learn from the pirates, who can’t pack PNC without them.

    – the parking garage is larger than the casino it is serving — how the hell can people even see the damn thing?

  16. Kevin in ABQ
    October 5, 2009 9:32 am

    And here you were worried about pigeons, Ginny. It’s those bridge trolls you really need to worry about.

    Seriously, I think it’s more of a ‘degrees of separation’ thing. Lower odds (snark) of running into someone you know (and who’ll mention you’re a degenerate gambler at church functions) in Washington County or in West Virginia than on the Nor’Side.

  17. Sofa King
    October 5, 2009 9:43 am

    3/4 of the people who play slots are old. Old people are afraid of driving in the city and getting mugged in Northside parking garages. Enough said.

    Once table games are legalized and people who are young enough to not recall the Eisenhower administration actually start frequenting PA casinos, then the Rivers Casino will start rolling in the bucks.

  18. Robin
    October 5, 2009 10:21 am

    I will swim a river to get to a GOOD casino.

  19. Sono Innamorato
    October 5, 2009 10:22 am

    Horne’s, Murphy’s and Kaufman’s – love it! I’ve been away so long, so thank you, Ginny for the great memories.

    Next time I come home, a certain Mexican restaurant will be on my list of new places to visit, but the Casino? Nah.

  20. spoon
    October 5, 2009 10:38 am

    I still can’t believe they took out my favorite tailgating area to build that piece of shit casino.

    Mr. Matta is trying to serve the PG the same batshit crazy kool-aid they make the employees drink. Must have gotten it from the Nutting family. go bucs!

  21. John in the Rocks
    October 5, 2009 10:45 am

    I went to the Rivers about a month ago on a Sunday and decided to get the buffet. Granted, it was a very good buffet, but the price? $25. Are you effin’ kiddin’ me?!? Yeah, it’s cheaper during the week, and they do have a 2-for-1 (only during the week), but this is Pittsburgh, not the Wynn in Vegas. And what @Kelly said about the drinks is on the money. It’s nearly impossible to get a bartender’s attention if you’re not sitting at the bar, and even then it’s tough. Better advertising, lower buffet prices and catering to the over 60 crowd would be a good start.

  22. burghgal
    October 5, 2009 10:57 am

    I’m a gambler and will go anywhere. I was at the Rivers the first week it opened. It’s beautiful but for a brand new casino, they are stingy with payouts. I win more at the Meadows or Wheeling.

    Also people think you’re going to be murdered, robbed and come out to your car covered in graffiti if you venture into the “city”.

    I also do know people who live north that won’t travel south, etc. I was in E. Liberty (I live south) and someone said “what were you doing OVER THERE?” .. like I went to the wrong side of the tracks.

    I love the ‘burgh but some things… sigh.

  23. Bram R
    October 5, 2009 11:19 am

    No, but my Da’ said that he won’t go because parking costs $80. I think that’s only sometimes, like maybe during Steelers games when there’s a full moon and you don’t gamble more than $10, but a reason’s a reason.

  24. Cnik
    October 5, 2009 11:35 am

    Crossing rivers is fine. Dealing with having every road blocked, closed, under construction, loaded with bumper to bumper traffic and of course having next to no public transportation is probably the bigger cause.

    Who wants to deal with traffic to just play slots? And in a recession no less.

  25. Pensgirl
    October 5, 2009 11:36 am

    I’m not a gambler and I’ve thus never been in ANY casino, but seeing Kelly’s comment I’m thinking that not taking credit cards might be a wee problem (SARCASM). Maybe if the casino tried making it easier for the people who are already going there to spend more of their money, they’d be doing better!

  26. Brighton Heights Jim
    October 5, 2009 11:46 am

    I am not much of a gambler, nor have I ever been to Vegas, but I’m falling in love with the slots since going to Rivers.
    To me, it feels like Rivers is trying to be a Vegas-type casino – and it’s not (by a mile). Price for beer is reasonable (how many bars can you go to and get a 20oz draft for $5?), parking is free if you have a membership card (which is also free).
    I think (like several others have stated here) people are afraid of the stigma attached to the northside. Sure, there is crime on the northside, but c’mon! The garage is attached to the casino and the highways are within a few redlights.

    I think once table games come in, it will pick up. However, if that doesn’t happen soon, there will be another large parking garage for the steelers to use…

  27. Al
    October 5, 2009 12:06 pm

    I think people assume anything associated with the North Side… er, I mean North Shore… is going to come with an unreasonable price tag. If you ask most people about the bars, restaurants, stadiums, and parking lots in that area, they have a stigma attached as being very expensive.

    I’ve been to the casino once. It was boring (I hate slots). Most of the games were somewhat confusing to play. I’m a tech-savvy person and it took at least several bets before I could figure out how to play some of the games. There were no instructions what-so-ever on many of the machines (I’m sure this was done by design). I was only there for about 45 minutes, but never once saw a waitress to take a drink order.

    The bridges had nothing to do with my decision to go there, but the general crappiness of the experience will influence my decision to return. Give me West Virginia with real black jack tables and not virtual ones.

    And another thing… I’m still not over the Pens/IOC not being awarded the casino deal and the city receiving a virtually free arena. The whole seemingly corrupt selection process really soured me on that place.

  28. H
    October 5, 2009 12:07 pm

    Sadly, I have heard people use the “don’t want tp cross the rivers” excuse before. They’ll cross for sporting events and concerts, but it’s like asking them to drive to another country if they live on one side and you want to go shopping or a restaurant on the other. The reasons posted by others so far are probably more accurate as to why the casino is not doing well, but there are people out there that feel that if they have to go downtown and pick a bridge to cross, you might as well have told them they have to drive to Florida.

  29. Kathy
    October 5, 2009 12:26 pm

    I have heard that the actual number of robberies that occur in the parking lot of the Rivers Casino is much higher than has been reported — they claim it is not “at the Rivers” because it occurs in the parking lot — but that people are targeted in the lot because they are presumed to have lots of cash on them as they head into the casino to gamble. And, that as a result, word has gotten out, and people are afraid to go.

  30. Pa-pop
    October 5, 2009 12:44 pm

    An article in the September 9 issue of the New York Times confirmed what I’ve been suspecting for a while: The burgeoning casino pie has reached its zenith and the slices are getting smaller. Plus, the economy (it’s always the economy) is having a harsh impact. The twelve state with casinos have seen a 12% drop in revenues in fiscal 2009 (ended this past June). Lotteries are down. Back out the newbies to so-called “racino” gaming and that part of the industry’s down 4 per cent in the past year.

    The river claim is bogus. I know people who will swim the length of the Ohio from East Liverpool to the Point just to drop a few coins. The bigger problem is a growing glut of gambling venues. From the Times: “Thirty years ago, gamblers had to go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to bet legally. Now, a dozen states have commercial casinos, 12 have “racinos,” or slot machines and other games that are installed at racetracks, 29 states have Indian casinos, and at least 42 states and the District of Columbia, have lotteries.”

    Even if all of the perceptions and misconceptions with the Rivers Casino are corrected, be prepared: It’s not going to be the bonanza most people thought.

    Let me recommend that the Commonwealth figure out a way to lobby against Ohio’s proposed constitutional amendment on November’s ballot that will allow four casinos in the Buckeye state. That pie is getting stale and smaller.

  31. bucdaddy
    October 5, 2009 1:38 pm

    Maybe people in Pittsburgh know a house of cards when they see one. Maybe they remember that their moms told them “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

    Let me tell you all some truth as an observer of the way gambling has metastasized in West Virginia: The gambling dens will ALWAYS plead poverty. Always. Always. It’s the leverage they use to get what they want.

    First of all, they fool the state into thinking gambling is economic development, and that they’ll hire hundreds of people at good paying jobs, and who can oppose that? They say “Look at all the money your state is losing to (Atlantic City, West Virginia, whatever), you need slots.”

    The state gets dollar signs in its eyes and starts building a hefty gambling buck addiction into the budget.

    Now the gambling people have you by the balls, because all they have to do is cry “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! We’re only raking in millions of dollars on slots, not the billions we dream of. There’s still a dollar in some sucker’s pocket. If you don’t give us X, Y and Z, we’ll have to lay people off. We might even pull out of here and leave you this empty, useless megabuilding and a giant hole in your state budget.”

    State bends over, grabs ankles, every time.

    In other words, Barnum was right.

  32. Three
    October 5, 2009 3:02 pm

    So, for years, gamblers have gone across the state to go to Atlantic City or West Virginia, and now they are suddenly afraid to cross a river? Yeah, I’m not buying it.

    Barsmart.com had a little chat going on about the casino (the thread is called “Rivers Casino — Fail!”), and a lot of the same stuff mentioned by commenters here are brought up there. Poor transportation, poor marketing, etc.

    In my mind, these guys figured that by being the only gig in town, that they had a lock on their market, and they wouldn’t have to do squat as the gamblers would just pour in because of its central location.

    And yet, they aren’t. I know on my drive in to work, I see people confused as to where the casino is. Last week was the first time I saw a direction sign for it by Heinz Field. And there are no signs to point the way to it from Rt. 28S — kinda shocked me — they’re just figuring everyone knows exactly where it’s at.

    I don’t know if they’re too arrogant, too lazy or too stupid. But whatever’s going on down there, it’s a lethal combo.

  33. Pittsburgh Tom (now back in da burgh)
    October 5, 2009 6:36 pm

    I’ve been to both The Meadows and The Rivers a few times. Have never come out a loser yet. I like both casinos, but I prefer the Meadows because of the horse racing. I grew up about 15 minutes away from the Meadows and would go there occasionally with my dad and uncle when I was still in elementary school. Now, if I get bored with the slots or the virtual blackjack there, I go down and bet on the horses.

    That being said, I’m still fascinated by the small tvs in the front of every machine at the Rivers and the reasoning behind it.

    I took my parents to the Rivers a couple weeks ago. My dad’s main problem with it was that the smoking sections were poorly marked causing confusion on whether where he was allowed to smoke. But mainly, I think they prefer the Meadows cause it’s close to them and have mostly the same machines as the Rivers.

  34. Virginia Hendricks
    October 5, 2009 7:15 pm

    Hmmm. I live 15 minutes from The Meadows. It took me two years to get there. I work like 5 minutes from Rivers, it probably will take an event to get there.

    Heck, I’m 20 minutes from Wheeling Island and I just went there for the first time for a concert the other night.

    Is it possible that people got comfy going to the Meadows since they got it up and running fast and didn’t waste time losing their bond, etc etc. Oh yeah, and The Meadows has a RACETRACK???

  35. Ted
    October 5, 2009 7:16 pm

    Slot machines are programmed to payout at a minimum 85% (guesstimate based on Google) BUT that is based over TIME. Thus why the payouts are “stingier” is because there are not enough people playing the slots which would elevate the TIME factor. Don’t be fooled that the Rivers doesn’t payout more…. they just don’t have the patrons attending like the Meadows does. As for me, slots are just plain dumb luck…. which is a suckers bet. When you r feeling lucky and don’t mind dropping a c-note just go to the nearest lottery seller and buy a bunch of tickets on different games…. if it is your lucky day you will win THOUSANDS not hundreds…. and you will be helping senior citizens not BILLIONAIRES!

  36. Old Cynic
    October 6, 2009 6:43 am

    Born and raised on the North Side and my wife will not go there, say’s it isn’t safe. How could The Tax Man, Ruindell, and Lackey be so wrong with their rosy projections? Hmmm – what’s next, we pay for the Penguins arena, and subsidize the Rivers? Hmmmm

  37. D
    October 6, 2009 6:55 am

    I live two miles from the Meadows and have only been there once…with my mom who goes a few times a month. I don’t get the allure of slots, but apparently she enjoys it.

    While the Rivers is far closer to her, she prefers the Meadows because the Rivers is more expensive across the board. Their food is very pricey and there are very few dining options, and they have fewer lower denomination machines. Another pet peeve of hers is that when you go to cash out, their machines only give out whole dollar amounts. (ie. $8.00 instead of $8.54). If you want that extra 54 cents, you have to wait in line for a cashier.

    Apparently the Rivers also thinks that they are above spending money to lure people in. The Meadows sends out lots of coupons for free play or free food promotions. She has yet to receive anything from the Rivers.

    They better realize that this is Pittsburgh, not Vegas, or we will never see any of the money owed to us for the arena, let alone any of out “property tax reductions” (as if we’ll see those regardless of the casino income!)

  38. HiTeach
    October 6, 2009 7:08 am

    Hey, I am not afraid of crossing any rivers….but going through those tunnels is another matter! You just know it is gonna collapse and you will stuck in there till the cadaver dogs find you. Nope..ain’t gonna be going thru some tunnel to get to that casino over there.

  39. bob
    October 6, 2009 10:50 am

    giving the casino to do barden was an ass move any,(hmm affermative action at its best) have to blame rendell, lucky luke and dapper dan for that, a free arena if ya give us casino bid come on in to the burgh,isles of capri is laughing now.

  40. Tony
    October 7, 2009 2:43 am

    As soon as PAT gets that wonderful $500 bazillion tunnel done under the river, they should spend another $100 bazillion and run the T-Line right up to the Rivers Casino’s front doors and then everything will be honkey-doorie.

  41. Christine
    October 7, 2009 3:41 am

    Older people are getting lost trying to get there. I work down by the point and four times now I have been stopped by people asking how to get to the Casino. One car of old people told me they had been driving around for an hour just trying to find a sign for the Casino. When they finally saw it, they couldn’t figure out what exit to use to get over there. I have also heard that people don’t like that there are no other eating alternatives close by. You know how the old folks feel about Kings, Eat N Park, and Red Lobster. The eating in the Casino is too expensive. :)

  42. Cathy
    October 7, 2009 9:18 am

    I have been to the rivers casino, I like to gamble once in a while, I have been to atlantic city and vegas. My 94 year old grandma and my mom both love to go to casino’s so I take them once in a while. (I have never been to the meadows.) I think that the rivers casino is pretty and has a great view, but they have no focus on who they are marketing too. Mom and grandma don’t mind dropping a couple of bucks at a slot machine, but they don’t want to be running out of money in 10 min. which is what I have noticed while walking around watching, people have spent all of their cash a lot faster then expected and having nothing else to do. And forget about service, 4 visits of about 2 hours each and I have never been approached to buy a drink. And forget about eating there if I am going to spend 25 dollars on dinner someone is going to make it, serve it, and clean up after me, I am not going to stand in line for a buffet. The rivers has to re evaluate its business plan make some adjustments and hope for the best. Worse case, we have another parking garage in North side.

  43. Tbone
    October 7, 2009 6:04 pm

    The casino spokesman made a great point that you only learn from being in or around the burgh. In reality, people cross rivers but you have to understand what he was really saying. Pgh has at least three distinct areas that remain territorial. People in the South Hills don’t know any roads in the North Hills. People from either HIlls don’t know any roads in the east except the one Monroeville Mall is on. We stay in our perspective territories for all of our needs except for work or sporting events. He made a great point. You just have to understand what he was really saying. The casino will survive, especially with table games coming. In the meantime, they need to increase marketing efforts to create more of a night out for entertainment vs. playing slot machines understanding its a destination trip, not a drive by and this is going to be ever challenging. The man did know what he was saying but he skipped over the details I just explained.